BUFFALO, N.Y. (HPD) — New York state dispatched military and state police Tuesday to keep people off snow-shrouded streets in Buffalo as authorities continued to count victims. the worst storm to hit the region in at least two generations.
Amid some signs of progress — suburban roads have reopened and emergency service has been restored — Erie County Administrator Mark Poloncarz warned that police will be at entry points into Buffalo and at major intersections to enforce a driving ban in New York State’s second-largest city.
“There are too many people who are ignoring the ban,” Poloncarz declared at a press conference.
Authorities said more than 30 people have died in the region. The death toll exceeds that of the historic 1977 blizzard, which killed at least 29 people in a region known for harsh winter weather.
The National Weather Service forecast up to 2 inches (5 centimeters) of snow Tuesday in Erie County, which includes Buffalo and its 275,000 residents.
County emergency services commissioner Dan Neaverth Jr. said authorities are concerned about the possibility of flooding at the end of the week, when temperatures are expected to rise and snow will begin to melt.
The rest of the United States was still shaken by the storm and at least 24 other deaths were reported in other parts of the country. Several communities, from Maine to Washington state, were still without power.
On the Rosebud Sioux tribal reservation in South Dakota, officials have announced plans to use snow tractors to reach residents after dropping boxes of food from helicopters and trucks over the weekend.
In Buffalo, the dead were found in their cars, homes or snowbanks. Some died while clearing snow, others because rescue teams could not arrive in time to attend to medical crises.
Poloncarz called the storm “probably the worst in our lifetimes,” even for a region where heavy snowfall is common.
The storm stranded people in their cars for days, forced the closure of the Buffalo airport and left thousands without heat. More than 4,000 homes and businesses were still without power Tuesday morning.
President Joe Biden offered federal assistance to New York state on Monday, while Gov. Kathy Hochul surveyed affected areas in her hometown of Buffalo, calling the storm “one for history.” Nearly all of the city’s fire trucks were stranded Saturday, she said.
Hochul noted that the storm occurred just over a month after the region was hit by another “historic” snowfall. Between those two storms, the snow level was not much different from the average 242 centimeters (95.4 inches) that falls in the area each winter.
The weather service said the snow level at Buffalo-Niagara International Airport was 49.2 inches (1.25 meters) as of 10 a.m. Monday. The airport will be closed until at least Wednesday morning, officials said.
Peltz and Julie Walker reported from New York.